I am a story teller. I have spent years photographing and sketching the people I meet traveling overseas and on our continent; using poetry, prose and drawing to tell their stories. Their faces are surrounded by yellowed pages from old books or maps written in their native languages.
The images from past shows were invisible people we mostly overlook: lost boys, run-away girls, abused and trafficked children, battered women, mentally ill elders. I found them in the woods, on hiking trails or busy streets, and even at an ICE drop-off point sheltering asylum seekers from Central America. Some agreed to pose for me, some asked that I alter their image.
In this study “One World” the faces represent average everyday people who suffer health issues, deaths in the family, disappointments or heart breaks which crush their spirits and fracture their vision of hope. No matter our language, personal faith, race or heritage, we all share the same experience of simply being human.
Each person has their own unique story to tell, so I focus on their eyes. They mirror the inner spirit, reflecting the reactions of each individual’s life experience. DNA analysis has revealed so much more about our personal journeys as human beings on this earth. Most people are of mixed heritage, with their bloodlines tracing back many generations through wars, great migrations, natural disasters, or times of peace.
Their images rest together on a picket fence, which is more open and welcoming. I picture people talking peacefully to each other over that fence, sharing their stories freely with mutual acceptance. A wall shuts people out and is too rigid, but neighbors linger and visit over a fence.
Because there are many layers to a person’s life and individual spirit, I used collage to frame their face and add depth to their story. Only when we peel back those layers of time and experience will we reveal the true spirit underneath. I think of it as an archeological excavation, where each small fractured sherd or bone fragment combines with thousands more relics to tell the personal stories which make up the history of our human family.
We are interconnected; we are related as human beings. No matter our differences, we are all children of God.
Jeannie Hope Gibson